Campaigners attack drive to block benefits appeals as decisions get overturned

A FIRM employed by the Government to weed outbenefit cheats are losing more than two thirds ofthe appeals against their decisions.

Controversial French company Atos are paid £100million a year to get people off disability and sickness benefit.

But Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have revealed that 69 per cent of people they represented at tribunals have won their appeals.

Heart attack and lung disease victims are among those Atos have assessed as being well enough to look for jobs.

And figures from parliament records show appeals will cost the taxpayer £60million this financial year alone.

Incredibly, Atos will not be penalised for their abysmal performance.

CAS head of policy Susan McPhee said: “If the Government want to cut down on fraud and help people into work, we support that.

“But with this system, they aretargeting many people who aregenuinely sick and unable to work. They are removing their income and plunging them into poverty.

“Our advisers are overwhelmed by people who have been found ‘fit for work’ by the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) assessment when they are not.

“Almost 70 per cent of these people who are helped by CAS have their assessment overturned at appeal – which shows how poor the system is and how many people are wrongly caught out by it.”

The figure is based on a sample of 269 ESA tribunals in 2010-11 – with 185successful.

Figures obtained by Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatrex show there were more than 166,000 appeals against ESA decisions in 2010-11, costing the taxpayer £40million.

And from April to August this year, there were almost 80,000 appeals,costing £19.1million.

This means the bill for 2011-12 could be £60million.

Greatrex said: “I know fromthe Citizens Advice centres in my constituency the amount of time and resources taken up by helping some of the most vulnerable people navigate their way through this tortuous system.

“These aren’t people trying to fiddle the system – they are constituents who suffer from serious illnesses such as Parkinson’s and cancer.

“The rapid rise in cases Citizens Advice dealt with in the last year clearly shows there is a problem.

“The way to save money, reduce the backlog of appeals and lessen the huge burden on Citizens Advice is not to hire more judges or move to a six-day week at the Tribunal Service, as the Government are doing.

“They must reform the Work Capability Assessment so it isfair and gets decisions right first time round.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “The reassessment of incapacity benefit claimants is pressing ahead on time and as expected.”

Atos declined to comment. 

The Daily Record 

Comments
  • Joe Kane on Facebook January 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Excellent two first comments on the Daily Record thread as follow –

    ralphybough wrote –
    I smell a fight with the British Medical association brewing;

    1: If ATOS does not believe the diagnosis of the claimant’s Doctor then why are they not seeking a BMA review?! By challenging the doctor’s diagnosis they are saying that the Doctor of the claimant is misleading, aka ; misdiagnosis aka malpractice.

    2: We need to protect GP’s and doctor clinical assessment of patients. If not then it will lead to an upsurge in patient deaths.

    3: ATOS is not a crown agent, so why is it allowed to challenge GP’s and do tors diagnosis? Is that even legal? And if not does this not meanb that GP’s and doctors that legal recourse to sue ATOS and by association the HM Government?
    1/1/2012 9:41 AM GMT

    ralphybough wrote –
    4: The senior management of the DWP are purposely misinterpreting the law, in the case of the Social Security Act. The Social Security Act explicitly says that a person needs a certain amount of money to live on. ATOS cant overrule this since it is not a crown agent.

    5: If senior DWP management seek to misrepresent the social Security Act then they are open to private prosecution in a court of law. Because they are not upholding government stature, and are taking recourse advice from political ministers seeking to destroy the social security act. Ministerial advice does not overule or ursurp government acts passed by previous government administations.

    To sum up ATOS is breaking the law. and they have been illegally and purposely misled by the Westminster coalition. ATOS should seek legal advice quickly cause they are going to be taken to court.

    We need a legal test case in a court of law to find out if removal of allowances contravenes the Social Security Act.

    A plague on the house of ATOS shareholders everywhere…..

  • Joe Kane on Facebook January 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    The third comment on the Daily Record thread is the usual heartbreaking testimony of someone too unwell and disabled to work, yet is being treated appallingly by the DWP gulag –

    Jim1963 wrote:
    ralphybough
    Well said.

    I had my third ATOS medical in November last year (2011). I have yet to have the results but I’m so embittered and disillusioned that I fully expect to be found fit for work – for the third time. I appealed the previous two decisions and won both appeals.
    I suffer from Heart Failure and Depression; Heart Failure severely limits the work I can do – basically just call centre work. Depression affects everything I do or try to do. Would you hire someone who may decide he can’t face work – maybe 4 out of 5 days per week? Or, if he did turn up would perhaps do very little work? Unfortunately, depression is the main reason I can’t work and all I get from the DWP and ATOS is more stress! Who can get healthier under continual stress? Neither is stress good for my heart condition.
    Despite my GP having issued me – last March, 2011 – with a ‘sick note’ covering me until March THIS year – 2012 – I have had the ATOS medical AND been asked to attend some ‘back to work’ program run by a private company called Ingeus. The medical AND the first appointment with Ingeus were within 2 days of one another. Did the DWP already know I was going to be found fit for work? Unfortunately – for both my family’s standard of living AND the taxpayer – I don’t expect to be fit for work any time soon. Having to scrimp and save, having to cringe when Christmas comes around and being unable to give our grandchildren little more than our love … it’s demeaning and heart-breaking. Having people condemn the unemployed as a blight on society doesn’t help either. I’m not happy being unemployed but I’m very sick and there is little I can do about it.

  • Joe Kane on Facebook January 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I said this elsewhere, we all know the British medical professional and regulatory bodies such as the GMC, the BMA and the Nursing and Midwifery Counicl couldn’t give a stuff about the treatment of the chronically diseased and disabled patient community of the UK at the hands of the DWP gulag.

    The BMA are still refering to patients who complain about Atos doctors as “vexatious” and recommend the GMC don’t take them seriously. See section 4. Vexatious complaints in the follow –

    Medical services doctors undertaking work for the Department of Work and Pensions or Atos Healthcare
    BMA
    http://www.bma.org.uk/employmentandcontracts/fees/medicalservicesdoctors.jsp

    Freedom of Information to the GMC request regarding “vexatious” complaints about Atos doctors –

    Atos ‘vexatious complaints’ BMA warning to GMC
    by Mr Peterson
    What Do They Know
    21 Sep 2011
    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/atos_vexatious_complaints_bma_wa

  • JJ January 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    They must SCRAP the WCA! NOT ‘REFORM’ IT!

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